Why medical school? Why now?

Hi everyone,

Through successful careers and family obligations, each of us has come to the same point…pursuing a career in medicine. I thought it would be interesting, inspiring, and encouraging to share our experiences in becoming an old pre-med. I’ll start.

I had always wanted to be a doctor, but had not been terribly focused in college. I pursued a Masters in Public Health to springboard me into med school. However, I entered the work force, got married, had a family, and shelved the idea of medicine forever. With no intention of EVER going into medicine, I had the best career ever as a stay-at-home mom for my five children. Long story short, I re-entered the work force so that my husband could finish his undergraduate degree.

Then, it hit…three years ago, as I was looking for a parking space at work (at a hospital), I was overcome by the feeling that I should be pursuing a career in medicine. I wrestled with that feeling for a month, trying to deny it, but it persisted. All the reasons not to (MCAT, post-bac education, expense, sacrifice, time investment, etc) were no match for the desire that welled up in my heart. I spoke with my husband and he supported it. Thus, I began the long journey.

Through this process, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be a doctor to make a difference in people’s lives or in patient care. So, why medicine? For me, it’s the opportunity to gain and apply knowledge to make people well and help them be the best they can be. Why now? Not sure about this one. But, definitely can’t be any later. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be 40 when I matriculate.

So, I hope to read about your inspiring stories. Thanks for sharing!


Dear Linda,thank you for sharing your story! I immigrated to the United states from Belarus and I find American people very inspiring. I have always wanted to study medicine and as a little girl i spend hours watching my favorite show "911 rescue"that was one of the very few translated into Russian. My parents had a different plan for me and sent me to an English Gymnasium where we focused on English and German and spent very little time with sciences.I secretly envied my friends who got into med school (in my country you apply right after high school)as i pursued interpreting and linguistics. While in college I kept traveling and did voluntary work in children hospitals both in Belarus and abroad.Most of my work I have done with children born near Chernobyl region. Even it has already been 26 years after Chernobyl power plant catastrophe children are still being born with a risk of birth defects and a high risk of developing cancer early in life.

I eventually changed my major for Psychology and was hoping to get my Masters in Neuropsychology to keep my parents happy by not being in medicine and at the same time be as close to medicine as it gets:)

In my early twenties life brought me to America where I saw the opportunity to be whatever you wish to be in life and not being judged for how old you are when you make those life changes. Growing up in the country of former Soviet Union you are basically stuck with what carrier you picked at 17 y.o right after high school as you live and cling to that job you’ve got to make ends meet.Belarus is a country of paradoxes:95% of population is educated in colleges and universities and no one is making a good living.

In America I spend many years working to pay legal fees to finally become a citizen at age 27. I was tired and thought it was to late to go into medicine when my life put many people like you in my path and I got inspired to get into post bacc premed at 29 and never give up on my dream:)

I have come a long way, lived in 5 countries and I am finally in a place that feels like home!

All the best, Tatsiana.

Tatsiana -

Let me just say, congratulations on achieving your citizenship in the US and on embarking on the journey to medicine!!


Thank you for sharing Linda. Here’s my story.

It’s such a cliche, but I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. I was in second grade when I started telling people I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I had a rough childhood, but managed to graduate high school with a great gpa and an international baccalaureate diploma. During my first year of college, I experienced the first of many major depressive episodes, got a D in Chem I and failed Chem II altogether. I convinced myself that it was because I wasn’t good at chemistry and changed majors from Biology (with a pre-med concentration) to foreign language–at natural talent of mine, but for which I don’t have a lot of interest. Well…I went for a year abroad, got married and then during my last year of college, I dropped out due to a difficult pregnancy.

It was many years before I forced myself to look at my transcripts. I had 119 credits. I had been 1 credit from graduating. Within a month, I had applied and enrolled in the nearest 4 year college. This time, I’m doing what I started out to do. I’m taking the prerequisites for medical school…and lo and behold, I’m GOOD at chemistry. I’m even good at physics, a subject I loathed in high school. Go figure.

A lot of it has to do with the better place I’m in today. I have a stable family life: a good husband, three wonderful kids, and great in-laws. When I started college the first time around, I was alone and I had a lot of self-doubt. More than a decade later, I know where I stand with my classmates and I know what I’m capable of academically and intellectually. There’s not a lot of room for that doubt anymore.

This was my intro Linda…

I am a 50 year old caucasian female. I graduated with an A.A.S. in Equine Science and Stable and Farm Management with a 4.0 in 1982. I graduated with a BSW in Social Work with a 3.93 in 1995. I graduated with a Master’s in Social Work from Syracuse University with a 3.86 in 1996 in the Advanced Standing Program. I have been an actively practicing Psychiatric Social Worker with the highest credential they have in New York State for 16 years. I run the Social Work Mental Health Department of a Community Health Center in a small city and carry a caseload of about 70 patients. I routinely put in 50-60 hour weeks. I am a member of the National Health Service Corps and am in the second year of completing my commitment to them. I am thrice divorced, and my 2 children are grown. I single parented an off the boards ADHD child and a severely Bipolar I child duering the years I was going to school and building my career. I have worked in Chemical Dependency, Adolescent Detention, HIV education and case management,Mobile Crisis, County MH Outpatient Clinics, and behind the walls at a Maximum Security Prison. I have a math learning disability and other than Stats and Research Methods, avoided Math for years. I am in the middle of completing Calculus I in preparation for taking Physics and Chem, the only two prerequisites I don’t have. I am real strong in the biological sciences and have had A&P (Equine and Human). I have 20 years of recovery from drug addiction and have been at the receiving end of the paddles for an OD in 1991. I have twenty years of volunteer service toe organizations that support recovery. I am a veteran of 6 abdominal surgeries and two cancer scares. I did 16 months of physical therapy to rehab from a car accident. I have been well and healthy for three years now. I ride horses, do yoga, and swim like a fish. I’ve traveled to all 48 and lived in most of them. I am no stranger to hard work. I am choosing this dream, because of two things - many psychiatrists have said to me “You should be a psychiatrist!” and I have worked with some horrible MD’s that I could run circles around and thought " Dear God, I can do this!" I believe in my current position I work as a healer, and I am ready to bump it up a notch!! The first 5o were a hell of a ride…I am psyched up to see what the second half of my life has to offer!!! By the way, will any med school want an old war horse like me???

Looking forward to the journey…

Thank you for sharing your stories. Whenever I get discouraged and think to myself “Why am I doing this?,” I receive comfort in knowing that there are others, like you who share that burning desire to pursue medicine against the odds and against what the world tells us we can do.

Tatsiana, I echo Kate’s congratulatory remarks. May I also add that your background will be an incredible asset in the world of medicine. I look forward to seeing the wonderful ways you will contribute to the profession of medicine. Best wishes!

ktgk, great job! Keep up the terrific work, academically. I feel like there are many elements in your story which are like mine. I had always wanted to be a pediatric cardiologist, but derailed myself in college. After, not putting forth a good showing in college, I pursued a Masters in Public Health. I have been in that industry since 1997, taking six years off from late 2000 to early 2007 to be a stay-at-home mom for my children. I have been adjunct faculty at a local university since 1997. May I just say that often, the best students I have are my nontraditional students. They are more motivated, more serious, and more focused. Keep strong!

Vicki, I totally admire what you have done in your career. I am certain that your level of expertise in your industry will make you an excellent candidate for medicine. Don’t be discouraged by the math. It just takes practice. You can do it! After my years of experience in the health care industry and knowing quite a few medical school students, I agree with your sentiment. There are a lot of doctors who don’t belong in medicine. You, however, will do wonderfully. From what you’ve said in your post…any medical school would be lucky to have you. Keep up the incredible work you are doing and have faith!

Everyone else, please continue sharing your stories. It helps to generate focus and inspiration.


Thank you!

Well…ok then

Always wanted to be a physician but coming from a family where neither parent made it farther than 4th grade just graduating high school was a feat. I joined the US Navy as a hospital corpsman, the Army would call us medics, in order that I could at least be in the medical field and work with physicians. I never shared my desire because I never saw myself as a college student, after all college is something you do straight out of high school. I was eventually stationed at the Navy’s research institute. There is where I met my mentors, a fellow corpsman applying to medical school, and a MD/PhD who told me that I should be a physician. They had more faith in me than I ever did. I began taking a course here and there and eventually after 8 years finished my undergrad. By then they were both gone and my mom reminded me of a promise I made to her about becoming a pastor if I ever finished college. So off to seminary I went. This was in 2007. At that point I figured since I was 35 this whole physician thing was over and I should just focus on being a pastor. I graduated seminary and on the drive home from graduation I looked over at my wife and said “Guess what…I still want to be a doctor…” We talked and prayed for the past year and decided that when a call haunts you like this it definitely needs to be addressed or be prepared to die a little bit more inside. It also didn’t help that during seminary there were many times when this was brought up. Heck the great thing about seminary is all the expensive psychological testing they paid for and when it came to a career path I scored highest in procedural medicine. So now at 40 I’m back on the FUD rollercoaster and taking my remaining 5 courses. The plan is to apply in 2014. I also plan to defy all logic and reason and see if by some miracle I get accepted to the military’s medical school USUHS.

You’re in good company here and I would recommend trying to connect with any local OPMer’s. Who you are in 5 years can be attributed to the books you read and the people you associate with…so associate with those going where you wanna go and doing what you wanna do. Just preachin to the choir.